GET TO KNOW… Francesco Federico

Francesco Federico (Chief Marketing Officer, UK & Ireland at JLL)

Francesco is a digital native passionate about modern marketing, data and technology. For more than fifteen years, he has led an international career across the marketing and communications mix for companies like Vodafone, Acer and JLL.
An entrepreneur at heart, Francesco kicked off his career founding three digital businesses while completing his law degree. These commercially focussed roles shaped his growth marketing style and, later in his career, allowed him to introduce radical innovations at market inflexion points for companies the likes of Vodafone, Sky, Google, Acer and, more recently, JLL.
Landmark achievements included the design and launch of the first My Vodafone app across 8 markets and the implementation of real time predictive pricing modelling on Acer e-commerce.
Currently at JLL, Francesco is Chief Marketing Officer, UK & Ireland while also serving as Global Brand, Marketing and Communications Sustainability Lead.
At heart, Francesco believes in the power of hybrid customer experiences to elevate the brand, develop meaningful storytelling and increase customer lifetime value. A passionate advocate of sustainability, diversity and inclusion, Francesco has run several industry-first initiatives to address the climate emergency and is a proponent of the importance of belonging and equal opportunity in the workplace.
Francesco lives in London with his wife, two kids and an extensive wine cellar. Previously, he worked and lived in Taiwan, Italy and Switzerland.

What factors contribute most to your success?
Accountability. Long gone are the days of “spray and prey” and marketing tactics whose success cannot be measured. I commit to a marketing strategy that is developed in close partnership with the C-suite then, as we plan and execute our campaigns, I ensure outcomes are being measured so that proper, weighted attribution is possible.

As we all know, the CMO is the shortest lived role in the C-suite and most of the time this is because its peers fail to see the value brought in by the marketing and communications department. With digital now permeating every aspects of the discipline, end-to-end tracking and line to revenue are prerogatives CMOs cannot escape from. I leverage this to our advantage, as having data that demonstrates success strengthens the bond with fellow board members and unlocks further investments which, ultimately, drive growth.

What are your priorities when it comes to organizational change, operational lift and staff development?

We live in a world where change is the only constant. As such, I want to make sure my organisation can morph in real time to accommodate markets’ demands. While this might be difficult to run than a traditional organisation, it is actually a great way develop talent and build succession pipelines. Never before there has been so much opportunity for talented marketeers to climb up the ranks, by quickly pivoting to different roles.

In particular, I think the role of growth hacker in a large organisation sits at the intersection of product, marketing, sales and technology which represents the perfect learning opportunity with multiple upward exits, especially because it is so exposed to the business in high-priority/visibility initiatives.

How much is customer experience, brand protection, purpose and corporate social responsibility part of your remit in the company?

Since my early days at Vodafone, I made my team literally customer obsessed. This has now naturally evolved into a strong focus on ESG, because customers demand it from brands. While the “E” was the first to take off due to the focus on sustainability, since the murder of George Flyod and several corporate malpractices have now brought also the “S” and “G” at the front of public discourse.

As with all powerful narratives, this is equally a huge opportunity and a risk. Brands who pick specific ESG topics that are close to their real actions, can really achieve an unfair competitive advantage by owning the conversation and furthering the debate for the better. On the other hand, picking topics that are too distant from the brand ethos or not reflected in reality, will heavily backfire as the level of scrutiny and access to information customers have today is unprecedented.

As always, I focus on creating a lean, cross-functional control room where such topics are agreed so we can go to market with sharp focus and consistency.

How well have you and your marketing team adapted to the virtualized work environment and what have you learned?

Interestingly, most of my department was already working across geographies and was flexible about commuting and remote working. In fact, as the whole organization shifted to working from home, the marketing department was seen as the early adopter and sought after for advice.

That said, working from home during a pandemic while also home schooling or caring for someone, took a toll on us as well, especially when new joiners started fully remote and did not have a chance to meet their manager or peers for months. We learned that colleagues had to be more human, truly understand what was going on in the lives of their peers and flex accordingly. Also, as work schedules shifted depending on personal needs, we put extra focus on communications, ensuring everyone could catch up on their own time if they missed a call.

 What is your biggest challenge this year? How are you overcoming it?

We need to shift from crisis-mode to growth-mode. It’s a massive mindset change, especially after a year that left many scarred. My focus is now on the good news, on the opportunities that lay ahead of us. I am looking at quick wins that can inject a sense of purpose and enthusiasm in the team, while I also take a fresh look at the governance processes established during the pandemic to contain costs. Now it’s the time to devolve autonomy where it’s most needed: execution level.

The strategy is set and our aim is clear, we need to empower our best people to get on with what they do best, trust them with our resources however scarce these might be, and ensure we are measuring everything so we can learn fast and iterate even faster.

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